Recipe: Simple Weekday Dutch Baby (Baked Pancake)

dutch baby I’ve mentioned in the past that my husband is the breakfast-maker in our home, but only on Saturday mornings. He makes up a big batch of pancakes, waffles, or French toast, and we eat them throughout the week. Once we run out, the kids have toast, cereal, or oatmeal. I’m great at making dinners (and even breakfast for dinner!), but hot breakfasts just seem so complicated for a weekday morning, especially since our mornings are filled with homeschooling, therapy sessions, and doctor’s appointments, so A.M. time is at a premium.

One of our favorite breakfast restaurants serves German Pancakes (also called Dutch Babies), and after craving them while pregnant with Junior, I knew I had to find a way to make them at home. I found a recipe and tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes. It’s ridiculously easy, and Tater could literally eat an entire pan on her own. It’s perfect for busy mornings, since prep time is less than 10 minutes, and it can be on the table in less than half hour.

Baked German Pancake (Dutch Baby) adapted from Melissa d’Arabian
serves 2-3
(unless you’re my daughter, in which case it serves 1)

-3 TBS Butter
-3 Eggs
-3/4 C all-purpose flour
-3/4 C warmed milk (I use coconut milk, and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds)
-4 TBS white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
-coarse sugar or powdered sugar for serving

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-In a blender, add eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and vanilla and mix until well combined.
-Place butter in an oven safe 12″ pan (I use a 12″ cast iron skillet) and place in the oven for 3 minutes, or until butter is melted.
-Pour batter into the pan, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and pancake is cooked through.
-Remove pancake to a platter and slice into 6 pieces. Sprinkle coarse sugar or powdered sugar over the top and serve with lemon wedges.

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Homemade Tortilla Bowls

tortilla bowls

Few things in this world are as satisfying as Taco Night, but sometimes even Taco Night needs a little pick-me-up. As a lifelong San Diegan, I’m ashamed to say that my taco go-to is a pound of ground beef and a packet of taco seasoning. I know, I know. It’s terrible. But, I try to vindicate myself by being creative. One of my favorite creative Taco Night upgrades is the Homemade Tortilla Bowl. I’ve used it as a Taco Bowl with meat, beans, and veggies (and you could add rice as well), for Taco Salad (in the photo above), and for Breakfast Burrito Bowls (scrambled eggs, bacon, and black beans).

The best part is that it’s actually a lot simpler than you would expect!

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of a flour tortilla with your favorite cooking oil. Sprinkle with salt.

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2. Place tortillas into a greased oven safe bowl. I use a round glass Pyrex bowl that is 1 QT, because anything smaller and your bowl will be too small to hold much of anything. And these are tacos we’re talking about, people, you NEED bowl space!

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3. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are crisp, then flip the tortilla over to firm up the bottom, about 3-5 more minutes.

4. Carefully remove, fill with your choice of fillings, and serve!

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Breakfast Burrito Bowls in a Homemade Tortilla Bowl

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The Best Time Saving Tips for Simplifying Meal Prep

timesavingtips

Most weeks are just downright crazy around here. Between homeschooling, Junior’s therapies, various doctor’s appointments, and trying to keep up on housework, I don’t get to spend as much time in the kitchen as I would like. I would love to be all June Cleaveresque; up before the sun making a hearty breakfast, getting a healthy lunch planned, and doing a 5 course dinner that is loved and admired by all who gather around my dinner table.

But lately, most mornings have been rushed with cold cereal, lunches are too often coming from the frozen food section, and dinners are usually a reliable quick standby–the less prep the better. But, I love cooking. I really do. I like to show love to my family by cooking them wonderful healthy and hearty meals. But, by the time Monday morning rolls around, I dig into the Trenches, and don’t have time to breathe, much less make gourmet meals.

So, I have come up with a solution…weekend prep for weekday meals. So far it’s been a huge success–I have been able to get healthy and satisfying meals on the table in less time than it would take to run to a drive thru, because all the prep work was done.

Here are my best tips for prepping your week, so you can spend less time in the kitchen, but not have to sacrifice the quality meals you want to serve your family.

1. Plan Your Menu
This is the first thing you need to do before you can prep your week. Plan your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Try to create a menu that incorporates some of the same ingredients so you can cook/chop/prepare in bulk, making your prep time more efficient.

2. Chop and Portion Produce
You will be amazed at how much time you can save by washing, chopping, and portioning your fresh produce at the beginning of the week.

  • Hearty veggies like carrots, celery, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers can be washed, chopped, and stored to use throughout the week.
  • Potatoes can be cut up to 24 hours before you need them, but you will need to store them in water or else they will turn brown.
  • Lettuce and spinach can be washed, but don’t chop them until they’re ready to be used, or else they will get red and wilted.
  • Mushrooms, cabbage, cucumbers, and zucchini can also be washed but not chopped right away, since they have a high liquid content and will become watery.
  • Melons and citrus can be cut up for the week. Apples should be washed, but not cut up until eaten so they don’t turn brown. Grapes and blueberries can be washed and stored. Fragile berries like raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries shouldn’t be washed or cut until you’re ready to eat them.
  • Portion everything for individual meals. I love using glass Snapware to store all my prepped ingredients!

3. Precook Pasta
This is one of my all-time favorite time saving cooking tips. I usually cook up a pound of pasta at the beginning of the week, and reheat it as needed for meals. Here’s the step by step on how to do this…I promise it will not taste like leftovers if you do it right =)

4. Cook Rice
Like pasta, you can precook rice for meals. To reheat, simply add cold rice to a steamer basket, and steam until hot.

5. Cook Some Meats, Prep the Rest
Depending on your menu, you can precook some meats to use for the week.

  • My Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken is an invaluable prep strategy when I’m making Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Enchiladas, Nachos, Tacos, Chicken Sandwiches, or Chicken Casseroles.  
  • Chicken pieces do not save well. Only precook the chicken if you’re planning to use the meat in another dish, not as is.
  • Brown ground beef with peppers and onions for spaghetti meat sauce or chili, or with taco seasoning for Mexican dishes.
  • Bacon can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated to use in sandwiches, on baked potatoes, or in omelets.
  • Do not precook or brown other types of meat before you are ready to cook them, but you can trim, cut into pieces, and portion for meals ahead of time.

6. Make Breakfasts for the Week
I make one big batch of breakfast food for the entire week, and heat them up every morning.

  • Pancakes, Waffles, and French Toast are the standbys. We make a big batch of one of them over the weekend, and reheat them in either the toaster or the microwave in the mornings and serve with fresh fruit.
  • Sometimes I make Breakfast Cookies or No Bake Energy Bites for a more on-the-go snack if we have early morning appointments.

7. Portion Out Snacks
Like most kids, my kids love to snack during the day. But, on the run options are usually fruit leathers and granola bars, which can start to get expensive, not to mention not being as healthy as other things they could be snacking on. Portioning out snacks into individual baggies or containers at the beginning of the week ensure that no matter how busy you are, there will always be a healthy snack at the ready. Some of my kids’ favorite “snack packs” include:

  • Homemade mini muffins
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Hummus and carrots or sugar snap peas
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Dried Fruit
  • Trail Mix
  • No Bake Energy Bites
  • Dry cereal

With just a little bit of prep work on the weekends, you can set yourself up for success in the kitchen all week long.

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Super Bowl Sunday Sandwich Bar

super bowl

I love football. I really do, and I always have. But, I love food even more. So, how wonderful is Super Bowl Sunday; the beautiful marriage of football and food?

When you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, the meal you serve should be just as important as the game itself (and the commercials!) Menus that are buffet style with lots of serving options are the best bets: Chili, Nacho and Taco bars, and meals made of appetizers are always big hits. But today, I’m going to share my new favorite Build Your Own meal…

The Sandwich Bar

My family loves going to delis and sub shops, because everyone can order exactly what they want, and even picky Junior can find something he likes. With the sandwich bar, everyone can come up with their favorite combination…there are endless choices! If you’d rather do a simple sandwich bar, pick just one or two different options for the bread, meat and cheeses. Everyone can still build their own, and it will be easier on your wallet.

Bread
A good sandwich begins with good bread. Make sure your bread is as fresh as possible, and preferably purchased from a bakery or deli.
French Rolls
Sourdough
Sliced White
Whole Wheat
Croissants
Gluten Free Bread


Meat

Roast Beef
Turkey (various types if desired)
Ham
Bacon
Italian Meats (Pepperoni, Salami, Capicola, Soppraseta)
Meatballs


Cheese (sliced thin)
Swiss
Cheddar
Pepper Jack
American
Provolone
Mozzarella

Veggies
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Onions (sliced, red and white)
Banana Peppers (in a jar in the condiment aisle)
Bell Peppers (sliced, green and red)
Jalapenos
Pickles
Avocado Slices
Cucumber
Roasted Red Peppers

Spreads
Mayonnaise
Mustard (Yellow, Deli, and Dijon)
Horseradish Sauce (in the refrigerated section)
Cherry Pepper Relish (in a jar in the condiment aisle)
Mashed Avocado


Finishing Touches

Crushed Oregano
Red Wine Vinegar mixed with Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Hmmmm. I can’t decide between a Turkey-Bacon-Avocado Sandwich on Sourdough with Pepper Jack, Lettuce, Red Onion, Cherry Pepper Relish, and Oil and Vinegar OR a Meatball Sandwich on a French Roll with Provolone. Oh, wait, maybe a Roast Beef with Cheddar, Green Bell Peppers, Pickles, Jalapenos and Deli Mustard on Whole Wheat.

I. Just. Can’t. Decide. But, boy am I hungry! Yay Football Food!

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Delightfully Delicious Greek Salad

greek salad

My sister-in-law is half-Greek. Her dad was born and raised in a little town in Greece, and he came to the United States as a young man. She has taught me a great deal about Greek culture and cooking. Like, did you know that real Greek salad has no lettuce?

It’s true! Authentic Greek salad is made up of vegetables, feta cheese (usually sheep’s milk), and a tangy vinaigrette.

This is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes…you can serve it as a side dish, or as a main dish with some fresh warm pita bread. It would also be great as a make-ahead lunch for the week.

Delightfully Delicious Greek Salad
Serves 4-6
(adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 1 cucumber, cut into 1-inch quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 C grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 C Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 C feta cheese
    Vinaigrette
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp deli or brown mustard
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sugar

Put veggies in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until well combined. Pour over veggies, top with feta and toss to combine. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. Serve as a main dish with warm pita bread or as a side dish.

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